Issue #707My recent binge show on Netflix is Grey’s Anatomy. To say I am late to the party with this one is an understatement—the show debuted in 2005, and I watched my first episode in 2021—but nevertheless I started it. I enjoy the show and really enjoy the fact that there are 17 seasons on Netflix, so it can keep me entertained for quite some time. And, although most episodes are merely entertaining, a few spark my curiosity. For example, season 11, episode 14, “The Distance.”
In this episode, Amelia Shepherd, a neurosurgeon and chief of neurosurgery, is about to enter the operating room and attempt to remove a brain tumor from a colleague when she stops, takes a deep breath, confidently puts her hands on her hips, stands with her feet shoulder-width apart, and lifts her chin to look upward, as though she were Superman himself. As she is doing this, her resident walks in, looks at her quizzically, and asks what she is doing. Amelia responds, “There is a scientific study that shows that if you stand like this, in superhero pose, for just five minutes before a job interview or a big presentation or a really hard task, you will not only feel more confident, you will perform measurably better.”
Wait. What? Pause the show. Is that true, or is that just script in a TV show to add to the drama? I opened my computer to search for information and was surprised at all I found.
TED Talks, research studies, articles—it was all there to back the benefit of standing in a power pose for anywhere from two to five minutes. An increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol is chemical evidence of the change that shows the superhero pose positively charges your neuro-endocrine levels, and the results are encouraging. So of course, this led me to question the effects of the superhero pose on teaching and learning. If research shows it increases confidence and performance, I believe it’s worth trying. Think about the possible effects . . .
before students enter the room each morning.
with students as a brain break before an assessment or big task.
in preparation for a big presentation.
getting ready for parent/teacher conferences.
before a concert or band performance.
It’s time for some action research. Try the superhero pose or some other power pose with your students or even on your own, and see if you notice a difference. I mean, even if it only boosts confidence, we can all use more of that, right?